When it comes to the Hitman franchise, I consider myself a lapsed fan. I adored the first three games in the series (the ones from the early 2000s), but I focused on other titles in the stealth-action genre after that point. Then, when Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 (2018) came out, I decided to grab them only during sales.
Still, it goes without saying that these two games reinvigorated my interest in the franchise. Sprawling levels, numerous challenges, and insane replayability hooked me like never before. Now with Hitman 3, the World of Assassination trilogy draws to a close. It’s one of my most anticipated games of 2021 and, after many hours of playing, I found that it’s the perfect way to cap off the entire experience.
Hello again, Agent 47
Hitman 3 follows Agent 47 and his allies, Lucas Grey and Diana Burnwood, as they hunt down the last members of Providence. The shadowy organization, one that rivals the ICA itself, has only a few partners left (hinted at towards the end of the previous game). However, a wrench is thrown into the plans as the Constant, also known as Anthony Edwards, seeks to consolidate his power.
Truth be told, I never played the Hitman games for the narrative and storyline. They tend to be your run-of-the-mill secret agent vs. evil organization trope that’s become too commonplace especially in Hollywood flicks. However, even though the overall plot was as bland and generic as you can get, there were a few surprises given the callbacks to past incidents (and even targets) in the series.
On top of the world
The meat and potatoes of the game, though, are its sprawling levels that offer countless ways for you to complete objectives. The first destination, Dubai, already has Agent 47 on top of the world, eliminating two key targets who are hiding inside the Hitman universe’s version of the tallest building in the world (the Burj Al-Ghazali or the Sceptre). It showcases just what you can do with the right tools and methods.
You can roam around and explore the sandbox nature of the mission, taking out opponents and civilians, obtaining new disguises to turn Agent 47 into a chef, helicopter pilot, bodyguard, and so on. Do you want to prepare poisoned food for a tycoon? Sure, you can do that if you dress up as a chef. Assuming you put emetic rat poison in the dish, the character will run to the bathroom allowing you to drown him in the toilet. Alternatively, you could add lethal poison pills that will kill him as he’s having that fine meal. Heck, you could even follow the businessman to his office, then impale his eye on a scale model of the tower.
Looking for an opportunity
Likewise, you could also follow mission stories (a feature from previous installments that makes its return). You can select from three options that provide a scripted path littered with tasks. Eventually, you’ll reach a target (or multiple ones), allowing for a quick and easy elimination. In some destinations, it’s possible to complete multiple mission stories since they pertain to different targets.
Personally, one of the best mission stories I’ve ever seen occurs in Dartmoor, Hitman 3‘s second level. I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ll be in for a treat.
Almost all of the mission stories are extremely creative and ingenious, and I applaud IO Interactive (IOI) for how these play out. They provide a means to explore the sandbox further, and some even lead you to new locations that you wouldn’t know were there had you been aimlessly wandering. Conversely, there are a select few objectives that are time-sensitive, too. Failing them cancels out the mission story entirely, but you can still find other ways to successfully complete the level.
Hitman 3‘s replayability factor
Speaking of sandbox exploration and the completion of objectives, Hitman 3 really shines through with the replayability it offers. You can expect more of the same, for good or ill, when it comes to these tallies.
Apart from a plethora of ways you can assassinate targets, there are also challenges related to feats and discoveries. Feats tend to be related to either a mission story or an optional task you can perform (i.e., bonking three guards on their heads with soda cans or using a grape presser to dispose of a body). Likewise, discoveries focus on items or locations that you can find in levels (i.e., getting all disguises or using all possible extraction points). Interestingly, Agent 47 has a camera that can be used to hack certain terminals to open passageways. Sadly, Hitman 3 doesn’t have a full-blown photo mode though.
Additionally, Hitman 3 introduces the concept of persistent shortcuts. At certain parts of the map, you might find gates, doorways, or ladders that are sealed off. If you can interact with these, the shortcuts will become available in successive playthroughs. These shortcuts open up new ways for you to reach your objectives, especially if you’re gunning for the Silent Assassin ranking or other variations (Silent Assassin, Suit Only).
Completing these challenges will net you a higher mastery score, unlocking extra starting locations, concealed stashes, weapons, and gadgets. These items will be available across all of the maps, and not just those in Hitman 3. That also includes those from the two previous World of Assassination games.
Given that Hitman 3 relies heavily on replayability, one of its most egregious flaws is its save system. This game still doesn’t have a quicksave function, so you’ll need to open your menu time and time again if you need to make manual saves. The manual saves are also arranged in a row instead of distinct sets depending on the destination. Moreover, I’d have to say that the autosave system is a bit unreliable to boot.
Of course, we do need to talk about Hitman 3‘s progress carry-over function and Access Pass. IOI has already detailed some information about these in the game’s pre-launch guide. It’s worth adding that the Hitman Access Pass will be free for early purchasers and Hitman 2‘s levels will be free for Steam owners in due course. However, for the sake of transparency, I’d like to note that the review code we received already contained both Hitman and Hitman 2 content. As such, even though I own both games on Steam, I wasn’t prompted about an Access Pass just to play maps like Sapienza or Miami.
As for the progress carry-over function, this is done via a website and an IOI account is required. Unfortunately, the website is down at the time of this writing. Although it’s expected to be available once the game launches via the Epic Games Store on January 20, this is a process that you want to do before delving further into Hitman 3. Should you do this at a later point, your progress in Hitman 3 will get overwritten.
An epic conclusion
Visually, Hitman 3‘s locales are impressive and stunningly beautiful. I’m talking about the overcast skies of Dubai, the expansive gardens of Mendoza, the dingy nightclub next to a power plant in Berlin, and the cityscape of Chongqing (which had Cyberpunk 2077 vibes). With an Nvidia RTX 3080, maxed out settings for quality, and 4K UHD resolution, the game ran at a buttery-smooth 110-120 fps. The only downsides were from certain character expressions and animations during cutscenes, since they can appear too rigid and wooden. Furthermore, I didn’t experience any crashes, slowdowns, or major bugs, but I did notice a few connection issues. I’m not sure if these are related to pre-launch jitters with Hitman 3‘s servers or just my PLDT internet acting up.
Now, due to the aforementioned qualms, I wouldn’t be able to do a progress carry-over since that’d wipe everything I did in Hitman 3 while reviewing and doing guides for it. My only recourse is to replay older missions once more just for the unlocks (which is a hassle). As such, my impressions in this review are solely based on Hitman 3‘s levels and content. Unfortunately, these only include six destinations/maps and related Escalation activities. I did fiddle around with Contracts mode for a bit, but Sniper Assassin mode only had the maps from Hitman 2. Don’t forget that Ghost Mode isn’t around anymore, and Elusive Targets have yet to be introduced.
Still, I’d have to say that what Hitman 3 offers as part of the base game remains fairly decent. The level design, mission stories, and replayability kept me engaged all throughout. It offered so many creative ways to undertake your objectives, as well as ridiculously satisfying assassinations. All in all, Hitman 3 is truly a worthy conclusion to Agent 47’s saga and, once the progress carry-over and Access Pass woes have been ironed out, you’re looking at the most complete Hitman game ever.